Expert Says: Power Requirements Are Not Keeping Pace With Needs of Wireless Devices

Representatives from TIAX LLC share their expertise at Power2002 Conference.

As the sophistication and capabilities of portable products such as cell phones, PDAs and notebook computers increase, so does the need for efficient power sources to handle the extra load, according to Brian Barnett, chair of the Power 2002 Conference and a Director at TIAX.

Barnett was one of several TIAX representatives who recently presented their ideas on power sources and portable devices to industry leaders at Power 2002, the annual international conference on power requirements for mobile computing and wireless communications.

“As consumer demand rises for increasingly sophisticated applications in portable devices, such as color screens, infotainment, increased character recognition and enhanced mobile experiences such as visuals and sounds, pressure builds for more and more power,” said Barnett, an expert in the area of battery technology and the battery industry. “Today’s lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are now reaching the fundamental limit imposed by the active electrode materials presently used. Because devices are rapidly evolving and requiring ever-higher levels of energy density, we need to continue identifying next generation materials that can meet the energy needs.”

Another approach to next generation power sources that is gaining increased attention among the battery industry and the portable products industry at large is micro fuel cells. According to Barnett, more people are taking on the challenge of developing micro fuel cells for portable applications because of the lure of potentially capturing the high energy content of a fuel in a power source. Although the area is a promising one, it is not without challenges. “The challenges that we see facing developers are system integration, packaging and water management,” said Barnett.

Cameron Miner, who leads the Wearable Systems practice at TIAX, also presented at the Power 2002 Conference on the subject of wearable systems – computing systems that are worn on the body to enhance capabilities or performance; increase safety, health and wellness; or serve as recreation or entertainment.

“Today’s growing emphasis on mobility has helped drive interest in the development of wearable systems,” said Miner. “In the past, we have seen the advancement of wearable systems across market segments, from the Walkman, which in its time fundamentally changed the way people listened to music, to personal health monitors, to high-tech soldier systems for the U.S. military, that can detect biological agents, enhance ballistics protection and load carriage capabilities, and assist in communication, coordination, and navigation.”

Similar to portable devices, because the complexity of wearable systems is continuing to evolve, there becomes an increased need for power.

“Since energy storage technologies aren’t keeping pace with the energy needs of other technological advances, we need to find new ways to generate and conserve power,” said Miner. “In addition, because the opportunity for wearable technology is so great in various markets including, military, medical, industrial, professional and consumer, we are continuously forced to address power issues in new ways. We need to continue to develop new technologies for storing, generating, and more efficiently using electrical energy.”